According to Eurogamer, the Nintendo Switch is significantly weaker than the Xbox One when docked, and slightly more powerful than the Wii U in portable mode. Some may say that this means that the console is underpowered, but I completely disagree. It’s just as powerful as it needs to be.
Of course, when compared to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, which are technically its competitors, the Switch is weak. That doesn’t matter, though, because Nintendo isn’t going after their market.
The 3DS audience
The Switch must be looked at mostly (but not entirely) as a 3DS successor. The reason why I say this is that Nintendo has always had success in the portable market, and as many people have already suggested, it’s reasonable to assume that the Switch will be getting support from all of the smaller third-party developers that made games on 3DS and Vita.
Many types of games come to mind: with third-party titles like Zero Escape, Shin Megami Tensei and Professor Layton, and first-party games like Animal Crossing, Fire Emblem and Pokémon, Nintendo’s portable systems have always benefited from a wide variety of experiences for casual and hardcore gamers. The 3DS audience will come to Switch if they see that kind of software on it.
What’s even better about this is that all of your favorite portable games can now be played on your TV when you’re at home, too. The Switch doesn’t need high-end graphics to have quality games on it. People have wrongfully assumed that the Switch will offer AAA third-party blockbusters on the go, but that isn’t its raison d’être at all.
The Nintendo we know and love
Casual and hardcore gamers alike enjoy playing local multiplayer games, and the Wii and Wii U were definitely king as far as that was concerned.
The Switch will be the same kind of fun, pick up and play-style system. Because of its Joy Con controller’s ingenious design, two people will be able to play on one console, at home or on the go, right out of the box… and that’s pretty awesome.
Local multiplayer games like Nintendoland and Wii Sports don’t need cutting-edge graphics to be fun, and no one would buy a system for casual experiences if it cost 400 or 500 dollars. According to most rumors, the Switch will be priced around 250 USD, and that’s the right price point for the Switch to be a good Wii/Wii U successor as far as multiplayer is concerned, and a good DS/3DS/Wii/Wii U successor as far as single player experiences are concerned.
Some big third-party games that are made for competing home consoles may be available on Switch, too, but they cannot be depended on, and definitely aren’t paramount to the Switch’s success.
Nintendo doesn’t need to build a powerful console to succeed. Everyone who wants to play Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto already has an Xbox One, a PS4 or a PC. Bringing out a similar system four years after their release for twice the cost would be a huge mistake on Nintendo’s part. The Switch must be cheap to successfully capture the portable and local multiplayer markets, and act as a good complement to the Xbox, PlayStation or PC for hardcore gamers – and that’s exactly what it seems to be doing.
At the end of November, Ubisoft executive Xavier Poix said that the Switch would “unite the gaming audience”. If the Switch does indeed act as a sort of ultimate Nintendo machine, combining what has made Nintendo’s home and handheld consoles as good as they are, I think that his prediction will come true.
And the system doesn’t need six teraflops to do it.